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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Meddlesome Mexico: Government adapts U.S. immigration laws to its preference

HoustonChronicle.com - Meddlesome Mexico: Government adapts U.S. immigration laws to its preference

June 27, 2004, 12:43AM

MEDDLESOME MEXICO
Government adapts U.S. immigration laws to its preference
By ALLAN WALL
Special to the Chronicle

It's an open secret that the Mexican governmment has a strategy to shape U.S. immigration policy to its liking. Mexican consular offices are hotbeds of political activity and Mexico City regularly curries favor with influential Mexican-Americans. It's fair for Americans to ask: Who's in charge here?

IT'S true -- multiculturalism is enlightening.

As an American who resides in Mexico, I have seen U.S. immigration from the Mexican perspective. And it's been a real eye-opener.

This perspective is usually ignored by the U.S. media. It shouldn't be. Mexican attitudes toward immigration, citizenship and assimilation are critical to U.S. immigration and citizenship policy.

The Mexican government is engaged in a deliberate strategy to influence American immigration policy, increase the population of Mexicans in the United States, slow their assimilation and retain their loyalty to Mexico. This is no secret conspiracy -- Mexican leaders speak openly of it. It is already bearing fruit. If allowed to continue, the inevitable outcome will be effective control of U.S. immigration policy by a foreign power.

Mexico's elite see the United States as a safety valve, where a part of Mexico's population can be exported, to relieve pressure on Mexico's troubled economy. This in turn reduces incentive for real economic reform. Why fix the problems when it's easier to export Mexicans?

The Mexican government works to hinder assimilation of Mexicans in the United States and to retain their loyalty. The goal is to gain control over U.S. immigration policy. And the strategy is working. Notice how U.S. immigration is no longer considered an internal U.S. matter but rather a bilateral issue to be negotiated between the United States and Mexico. Mexican immigration policy, stricter than our own, is off limits from such negotiation, of course.

Some influential Mexicans go even further, speaking openly in terms of a reconquista -- a reconquest of the U.S. Southwest, briefly a part of Mexico in the 19th century.

Mexican attitudes to the assimilation of immigrants in the United States are diametrically opposed to ours. Americans, raised on romantic ideas of immigration, believe that immigrants will continue to assimilate and become Americans, just like back in the Ellis Island days.

What they don't understand is how it's viewed from south of the border. Mexicans generally regard any person of Mexican ancestry as a Mexican -- regardless of citizenship -- even if his ancestors have lived in the United States for generations.

The Mexican government and media regard Mexican-Americans as tools of Mexican foreign policy, who will support the interests of Mexico. The government is cultivating a relationship with them to win their loyalty. Prominent Mexican-Americans who already support Mexican goals are invited to conferences in Mexico, where they discuss how to liberalize already loose U.S. immigration law.

Certainly, this strategy is offensive to patriotic Americans of Mexican ancestry, who have no desire to take orders from the Mexican government. But many newer immigrants, encouraged by the Mexican government and American multiculturalism, will buy into this mentality and continue to regard themselves as Mexicans, regardless of citizenship.

Such a posture is now much easier. Recent Mexican constitutional changes have legalized dual citizenship, and plans are being made to enable Mexican residents living in the United States (including dual citizens) to vote in Mexican elections. An attendant proposal would classify the entire United States as an electoral district of Mexico!

Do American citizens have anything to say about all this?

Mexican consulates in the United States are centers of political agitation that go far beyond legitimate diplomatic activity. Gringos are expelled from Mexico (and rightfully so) for engaging even marginally in Mexican politics. But Mexican diplomats openly meddle in U.S. internal politics. They organize public protest and openly attempt to influence legislation. To date, no such brazen meddling has been reprimanded by the U.S. government.

Mexican consulates do a brisk business of distributing the {(matricula consular)}. This document is not a Mexican passport, which legal immigrants already possess. It is issued almost exclusively to illegal aliens, to avoid their deportation. It is accepted by local governments and police forces across the United States. U.S.A. Such acceptance grants Mexico the right to say who may or may not be deported form the United States.

As an American living in Mexico, I have a permit granted me by the Mexican government, to legally reside and work here. I don't complain. After all, I came here voluntarily and have a responsibility to obey the law. But shouldn't the same respect be accorded to my country by Mexicans and their government ? Or is respect only a one-way street?

The growing influence of Mexico over U.S. immigration and citizenship is impressive. It's no accident, because our own leaders either ignore it or actively collaborate with it. What's at stake is nothing less than the sovereignty of our country. Our own leaders must be confronted, and asked "Who is in charge of American immigration policy?"

Hundreds show for Consulate visit 06/27/04 - Grand Island Independent: News

Hundreds show for Consulate visit 06/27/04 - Grand Island Independent: News

Luis Fernando Alva, deputy consul of Mexico, expected around 200 Mexican nationals to show up at Walnut Middle School on Saturday.
As of 4 p.m., the numbers were just a little bit higher.

"We knew there were a substantial number of Mexican Nationals in this area. That's why we came here," Alva said. "We didn't expect more than 200 but there have been more than 300 so far."

The primary reason for the Consulate visit was to procure information from the nationals for matricula consular cards, which are issued by the Mexican government and serve as identification.

The cards include a person's name, current address, their picture and an expiration date. Alva said the cards serve as identification for people who want to do everything from getting a passport to opening a checking account.

What the card is not, he said, is a way to gauge the legality of how many of the nationals came to the United States.

"We don't ask about immigration status," Alva said. "That's not our job."

The Consulate was at Walnut Middle School from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and was equipped to not only help with questions, but provide copies of documents and take identification pictures. Alva said the matricula consular cards will be given to St. Mary's Cathedral for distribution.

In speaking with many of the people who showed up at the Consulate visit, Alva said the cards are important to people for a variety of reasons.

"It's useful if you want to travel to Mexico," he said. "It's very important for some people to have."

A Mexican national, who didn't wish to give her name, said for her, the card would mean a form of identification that people recognize and she can use. She said she heard about the Consulate visit from a friend, and was grateful they came to answer questions and help her with her situation.

The woman brought her son with her, as did many of the Mexican nationals who attended the Consulate's visit. The group is based out of Omaha, and has come to Grand Island once a year for the past three years, Alva said. The Consulate makes an effort to cover as much of the state as possible.

Not everyone was pleased at the Consulate's visit, as a lone protester stood outside Walnut with a sign decrying the concept of the matricula consular cards. Jess Valdez calls himself an "immigration reform activist."

"The Mexican government is subverting United States immigration law by issuing these cards," Valdez said. "The only people who need these cards are Mexican nationals who are here illegally."

New, more brutal wave of kidnappings sparking protests across Latin America

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Mexico -- New, more brutal wave of kidnappings sparking protests across Latin America

10:20 a.m. June 26, 2004

Associated Press
A protester who gave her name only as Maria, center, and Elia, demonstrate with banners calling for more protection against crime outside a shopping mall in Mexico City. Revulsion over abductions sparked a week of protests this month by housewives in Mexico.

MEXICO CITY – Joshua Sierra's family wasn't rich. They lived in an apartment on Mexico City's gritty east side and hardly fit the mold of the affluent foreigners who have so often fallen prey to kidnappers.

But on a summer day last year, 2-year-old Joshua disappeared.

The abduction falls into a troubling trend taking hold across Latin America: Kidnappers are becoming more reckless, more brutal, and more random about whom they choose to snatch off the streets.

"Once they get you, they tend to be more violent, because they don't really have any coherent idea of how much money you have, or where you keep it," said Frank Holder, former head of Latin American operations for risk management company Kroll Inc. "They may decide to torture you to get that information."

Revulsion over such abductions sparked a week of protests this month by housewives in Mexico, while a fatal kidnapping in Argentina led tens of thousands to demonstrate in the streets of Buenos Aires in April. A similar mass rally is being held Sunday in Mexico City.

Joshua's story is a chilling illustration of the new tactics.

When the kidnappers seized the boy from his apartment, they left behind the strangled corpse of the toddler's 15-year-old cousin.

The family scraped together a $10,000 ransom for Joshua, but the boy has not been returned.

"We just want them to return Joshua," said the boy's aunt, Yolanda Torres. "We have hopes that he is still alive."

Mexican officials claim kidnappings have been declining overall, even as the abductors' methods become more brutal.

Federal and state crime statistics indicate kidnappings peaked in 1997 – with 1,047 known abductions – but even government officials concede the majority of kidnappings are never reported to police.

Kroll estimates Mexico has the second-highest number of kidnappings behind Colombia, where many abductions are political. The company estimates that in 2003, there were 4,000 kidnappings in Colombia, 3,000 in Mexico and 2,000 in Argentina.

Abductions of the kind depicted in the recent Denzel Washington movie "Man on Fire" are sophisticated operations in which the perpetrators may study wealthy targets for months. The gangs usually have experience, a negotiating plan and an exit strategy.

As police crack down on such professionals, small-time criminals have been going after people who cannot afford to travel with bodyguards and bulletproof cars.

Fearing victims might identify them once set free, kidnappers have taken to killing their prey even after ransoms are paid.

"The demonic thing about opportunistic kidnapping is that anyone could be a victim," Holder said.

Con artists also have been taking advantage of the kidnapping fears.

In so-called virtual kidnappings, gangs gather information on a victim, then wait until the person is temporarily out of reach and call their families to claim their loved one has been kidnapped.

In one recent case, a man was dropped off at the Mexico City airport by his wife. As he waited for her to park the car, three men approached, described the wife perfectly and said they were holding her and would harm her unless he gave them money.

He did, only to find the woman had never been abducted.

There have even been self-kidnappings, or young people who persuade acquaintances to tell their parents they have been abducted to try to wring money out of them.

In the past, express kidnappings involved a victim abducted in a car or taxi, driven around for a few hours, beaten and threatened so the attackers could get a PIN number and make cash withdrawals from an automated teller machine. Many police departments still classify those cases as armed robbery, not kidnapping.

But those kidnappings have evolved and now can last for days, weeks or months.

"Kidnappers have become more ruthless," said Genaro Gongora Pimentel, a Mexican Supreme Court justice.

Mexican police battle suspects in streets of Tijuana

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Mexico -- Mexican police battle suspects in streets of Tijuana

By E. Eduardo Castillo
ASSOCIATED PRESS
1:43 p.m. June 24, 2004

MEXICO CITY – Police captured the head of a squad of killers for a major drug gang during a spectacular shootout in the streets of Tijuana early Thursday, according to Mexico's attorney general, who said the group could be linked to the slaying of a local journalist.

Macedo announced the arrests at a news conference at which he displayed several high-powered weapons captured from the gang, including a 50mm machine gun meant to pierce light armor.

He said the gang was led by Mario Alberto Rivera Lopez, alias "El Cris," and he said the man worked for the Arellano Felix drug gang which officials have blamed for scores of murders of police, prosecutors, reporters and rivals in the drug trade.

Rivera and one other suspect had been flown to Mexico City, he said, while two others were hospitalized in Tijuana. A federal agent also was wounded, he said.

Macedo said that the group "could have possible links" to Tuesday's gangland-style slaying of Francisco Ortiz, an editor for the muckraking weekly newspaper Zeta.

A 1997 shooting of the newspaper's publisher, Jesus Blancornelas, had involved men linked to the Arellano Felix gang.

"Because of the way in which this homicide (of Ortiz) was handled, we believe it was this organization" that killed him, Macedo said, though he could not specify if the men arrested Thursday were directly involved.

Four women also were arrested in the operation.

Earlier Thursday, President Vicente Fox mentioned the arrests, saying, "We're dealing with drug traffickers, very important chieftains, one of them called 'El Cris.'"

"Once again we have struck hard against this type of group," the president said.

Local police say the incident began when their officers started trailing a seemingly armored car whose occupants roused their suspicions in the Loma Dorada neighborhood very late Wednesday night.

They called in help from federal agents, starting a chase through the streets that ended in a shopping center after midnight

Iraq soldier shot to death in San Bernardino County

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Military -- Iraq soldier shot to death in San Bernardino County

5:34 a.m. June 24, 2004

VICTORVILLE – An Army paratrooper who served in Afghanistan and Iraq was shot to death outside his mother's home, authorities said.
No arrests were immediately made.

Daniel Maldonado, 20, had been recuperating from back injuries suffered in March when he fell 70 feet from a helicopter in Iraq. A private in the 82nd Airborne Division, he was to have reported to Fort Bragg, N.C., on Thursday to take Ranger training and expected to return to Iraq.

"He was about 90 percent recovered," said his mother, Rosa Maldonado. "He had been home with us for 10 days. These were very nice days for him. He was so happy to be home."

Maldonado was drinking beer with his girlfriend and two other friends on the front lawn just after midnight when a man approached and an argument ensued, authorities said.

Moments later, a car pulled up and a passenger fired at least one shot that hit Maldonado in the chest, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

He ran back and collapsed in the garage, where he was declared dead.

Detectives said they believed the argument was unrelated to gangs or drugs.

"What are the odds that a guy can go through all that much in military action only to be killed in a street fight on American soil?" sheriff's Sgt. Derek Pacifico said.

His mother said her son joined the Army soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. After nine months in Afghanistan, he came home and then was redeployed to Iraq last year.

Hispanic residents, police meet to work on communication - Tuesday, 04/20/04

Hispanic residents, police meet to work on communication - Tuesday, 04/20/04
By IAN DEMSKY
Staff Writer
Social problems of concern to audience

Metro police officials and Nashville's Hispanic community have taken several steps toward building trust and establishing communication since they last met in April.

Trust and communication are the cornerstones of improving relationships, panel members said at a second community meeting last night in Glencliff High School in south Nashville.

More than 50 residents and local officials attended, including Mayor Bill Purcell and state Rep. Janice Sontany, D-Nashville.

''This should be a place to talk about our challenges, our strengths and our plans, and do that without fear,'' Purcell said. He pledged to use the information and ideas coming out of the forum as guidance.

In addition to police officers, the eight-member panel included representatives from Hispanic media outlets, community organizations, U.S. immigration services and the state Department of Safety.

Metro police Capt. Rick Lankford said most crime problems in the heavily Hispanic areas of south Nashville were robberies involving people and businesses, gang violence, domestic violence and alcohol consumption.

Social and cultural differences, mistrust and language barriers are the biggest obstacles the department faces, he said.

New police programs to resolve these problems include recruiting Hispanic officers, forming partnerships with local businesses and promoting neighborhood watch groups.

Lt. Mitch Fuhrer of the Police Department's gangs unit said that since the previous meeting, officers had been talking to Hispanic business owners about gang activity and removing gang-related graffiti.

Ron Kidd, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Nashville, said Hispanic residents who are in the country illegally needed to know that they would not be investigated or deported for helping police solve crimes or for giving them information.

Audience members voiced several concerns, ranging from widespread social problems to individual needs. Some were worried about elderly and young Hispanics not being able to get state-issued identification cards after laws changed following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Others questioned how to report complaints about being falsely given a traffic ticket. Some asked whether residents who were in the country illegally could still offer to serve as liaisons between the police and the Hispanic community.

Hispanic Business News Article - Seven Leaders and Members of Netas Gang Charged With Murder, Stabbing and Multiple Shootings

Hispanic Business News Article

Seven Leaders and Members of Netas Gang Charged With Murder, Stabbing and Multiple Shootings
PR Newswire

NEW YORK, June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William G. McMahon, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Denis Dillon, Nassau County District Attorney; and James H. Lawrence, Nassau County Police Department Commissioner; today announced the unsealing of an indictment charging five leaders and members of the Freeport chapter of the Netas, a violent street gang based on Long Island.

The charges, including a homicide, shootings, beatings and a stabbing, are the product of an investigation led by ATF's Long Island Firearms Task Force, comprised of members of ATF and the Nassau County and Suffolk County Police Departments. Most of the charges against the defendants grow out of a gang war with members of the MS-13 gang in Nassau County during the past several years.(1)

Five defendants were to be arraigned today before U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein in Central Islip, N.Y. The two remaining defendants, also members of the Netas Freeport chapter, were previously arraigned on related charges.

(1) The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

THE NETAS

According to the indictment, the Netas were organized in approximately 1970 in a prison in Puerto Rico and thereafter spread to include inmates in New Jersey and New York. As Netas inmates were released from prison, they formed chapters and engaged in various criminal activities, including narcotics distribution and violent assaults and murders of rival gang members.

Each Netas chapter has a hierarchical leadership structure, including a president, vice president, treasurer, disciplinarian and a coordinator who organized monthly meetings. Prospective Netas members were required to participate in a probationary period before they were formally "blessed in" to membership at a "universal" meeting of the chapters on March 30th of each year. Members often wore red, white and black to indicate their gang affiliation, used hand signals to identify themselves to other members as well as to rival gangs, and frequently bore tattoos reading, among other things, "N.D.C.," for Neta de Corazon, meaning "Neta from the heart."

Each member was required to follow to a set of rules, which obligated the member to obtain a "green light" before committing an act of violence, and to report suspected government informants to their leaders. Gang members who violated any of the rules were disciplined at ritualized beatings, typically at a monthly meeting by the chapter's disciplinarian.

The Charges

The charges announced today follow the murder of Damien Corrente, on January 14, 1999, in Freeport, N.Y. Corrente was mistakenly believed to be a Netas member by his MS-13 assailants. The Corrente murder escalated the already violent conflict between the Netas and the MS-13 gang.

The Giovanni Aguilar Homicide

Amadeo Rodriguez and Christopher Moore are charged with the execution- style shooting murder of 20-year-old Giovanni Aguilar at a residence on Jay Street in Freeport, N.Y., in the early morning hours of January 1, 2001. The indictment charges that Rodriguez and Moore murdered Aguilar, a Freeport landscaper, because they mistakenly believed that he was a member of the rival gang MS-13. As Rodriguez shot Aguilar in the face and chest, Moore fired six times into a residence containing New Year's Eve party celebrants -- including members of MS-13 -- narrowly missing a 10 year-old child. Jose Escobar and John Piedrahita are charged with accessory after-the-fact for disposing of the murder weapon.

Assault at the Freeport Industrial Area

On July 18, 2000, Amadeo Rodriguez, Jose Escobar, Nelson Calderon and John Roman beat and stabbed two men at the Industrial Area in Freeport, N.Y. The attack was retribution for an earlier altercation between the Netas and the victims. The defendants, with faces masked, attacked the victims with sticks and broken bottles. One victim was stabbed in the leg while the second suffered lacerations of the neck.

Sunrise Highway Shooting

On April 23, 2003, at approximately 8:15 p.m., Amadeo Rodriguez and German Chajchic were driving on Sunrise Highway in Bellmore, N.Y., and Rodriguez opened fire at a car filled with members of the MS-13 gang, narrowly missing them, as well as several innocent bystanders.
If convicted, the defendants face the following maximum sentences: -- Amadeo Rodriguez -- life imprisonment, or death, based upon his participation in the Aguilar homicide, the assault at the Freeport Industrial Area and the Sunrise Highway shooting; -- Christopher Moore -- life imprisonment, or death, based upon his participation in the Aguilar homicide; -- German Chajchic -- life imprisonment, based upon his participation in the Sunrise Highway shooting; -- Jose Escobar -- 35 years imprisonment, based upon his disposing of the Aguilar murder weapon and his participation in the assault at the Freeport Industrial Area; -- Nelson Calderon and John Roman -- 20 years imprisonment, based upon their participation in the assault at the Freeport Industrial Area; and -- John Piedrahita -- 15 years imprisonment, based upon his disposing of the Aguilar murder weapon.

ATF Special Agent-in-Charge McMahon stated, "ATF's primary concern is the safety of our citizens. By removing these violent gang members from the streets, we can reclaim our neighborhoods where our children and families can enjoy their freedom without fear of injury. ATF, along with our partners, will strive to make our streets safer by targeting these violent gangs and put their vicious members in prison."

"The charges announced today are part of our continuing effort to eradicate indiscriminate gang violence on Long Island," stated U.S. Attorney Mauskopf. "From the gratuitous murder of an innocent man, to the near slaying of a 10-year-old child, the violence perpetrated by the Netas demonstrates the very real risks that so-called gang wars pose to law abiding citizens. As today's cooperative effort by law enforcement demonstrates, we have and will continue to devote our energy and resources to this effort to ensure that those who commit violent crimes face the maximum punishment allowed by the law."

Mauskopf emphasized that the investigation is continuing and expressed her appreciation for the work of the ATF Long Island Firearms Task Force.

Dillon, the Nassau County District Attorney, stated, "This investigation is yet another example of interagency cooperation in our aggressive efforts to combat gang violence on Long Island and make our communities safer."

Lawrence, Nassau County Police Commissioner, stated, "The indictments unsealed today are another example of how the entire law enforcement community can collectively pool their resources and bring these gang members to justice. It is our sworn duty to protect our neighborhoods from the violence these members perpetrate upon our community."

The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark J. Lesko.

Contacts: Robert Nardoza United States Attorney's Office (718) 254-6323 Joseph Green Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (718) 650-4000 Richard Hinshaw Nassau County D.A.'s Office (516) 571-2994 Lt. Kevin Smith Nassau County Police Department (516) 573-7135Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives

Web site: http://www.atf.gov/

Avondale lays off immigrant workers

Transfers Reflect '91 Experience

The Times Picayune--April 04, 2003

Avondale lays off immigrant workers
Federal rules left no choice, firm says

By Joan Treadway
Staff writer

The middle-aged Honduran man had been a painter at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Avondale shipyard for three years. He was a legal immigrant with proper work authorization. His employer had no complaints about his job performance.

But a month ago, he and 30 other Hispanic and Middle Eastern workers in similar circumstances were abruptly laid off.

"We were surprised," he said. "Everybody's got families and a lot of bills to pay. Now we're all looking for other jobs."

The painter and his colleagues were casualties of strict regulations governing defense projects that can lead to costly fines if a company allows certain foreign workers to see blueprints or other restricted material.

Avondale and its sister plants in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss., are building portions of 12 amphibious assault ships for the Navy. With the first ship almost ready for launch and more coming along, it soon will not be possible to effectively prevent workers from other countries from seeing restricted materials, said George Yount, vice president of operations at Avondale.

When it became clear that a single incident of someone seeing something they shouldn't could cost the company $500,000, he said, he had little choice.

"It was like cutting my finger off," said Yount, referring to laying off a group of men and women including skilled welders and other sorely needed workers.

In his desperation, Yount briefly considered erecting a fence across Avondale's property to keep the workers from seeing sensitive documents, but that idea proved unfeasible.

He called the workers together and told them that they were being "released," he said, but that they were welcome to return to their old jobs, without reduction in salaries or benefits, if they get their immigration status adjusted to something acceptable to the State Department within a year.

One person has already done so and is again working at Avondale, but it isn't as easy for others, he said.

Under the regulations, foreign-born workers who are involved in such projects must be either naturalized citizens, permanent or temporary residents, refugees, or those seeking asylum, Yount said.

A State Department official in Washington, D.C., said the rules that govern defense contractors, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, flow from the Arms Export Control Act of 1968.

The State Department has not stepped up enforcement of the directives since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or because of the war with Iraq, she said. Instead, the agency always has been diligent in checking for compliance, the spokeswoman said.

Part of the concern behind the rules, Yount said, is that a foreign-born worker could pass information on the framework of the amphibious ship and the thickness of its walls to an unfriendly government, making the ship more vulnerable to an attack.

The project at Avondale is a lucrative one. The sixth ship alone is expected to cost $1.2 billion. The assault ships in production are capable of transporting about 800 Marines at one time, Yount said. They will contain advanced medical centers, as well as sophisticated "combat systems suites that allow you to see the battle scene going on around you, through satellite imagery and other means," he said.

And they are made to handle a new breed of aircraft being developed, V-22s, "which can take off as helicopters, then fold their wings and fly like planes," he said.

The company also is involved in designing Coast Guard vessels, which eventually will come under the same federal regulations, he said.

Eight of the laid-off workers are natives of Honduras who left after Hurricane Mitch devastated their homeland in 1998. They all have "temporary protected status," a special immigration designation granted to residents of Honduras and Nicaragua so they could work in the United States and send money home to help rebuild their countries, said Maria Eugenia Lobo, the Honduran consul general in New Orleans.

The painter who lost his job was one such worker, and he appealed to Lobo for help. But Lobo said "temporary protected status," which allows people to stay in the United States only for a designated period, isn't the same as "temporary resident status," a category for immigrants who plan to become permanent U.S. residents. There was nothing she could do.

"It's a sad situation, but with the security that has to be in place in this country, I understand," she said.

Trucker Strike



Port truckers may strike June 28
By Jill Dunn

Truckers at various ports are talking of striking June 28-July 4, though the level of expected participation is uncertain.

John Hassell III, president of the Maritime Association of the Port of Charleston, said port authority police had worked with independent truckers to clarify that they may not interfere with vehicles leaving or entering the port.

Owner-operators have said they want better rates and need to receive a full fuel surcharge. Hassell said he also has heard truckers accuse companies of using drivers who do not have a commercial driver’s license.

How much a strike will hurt the port depends upon how many truckers participate, he says. July is generally a less active month for the port, but holiday-related activity usually begins in August, Hassell said. Talk of a strike “has gotten everybody’s attention,” he said.

One of the flyers being distributed to truckers has been posted on the Industrial Workers of the World website. The anonymous flyer, written in English and Spanish, says truckers in the Northeast instigated the call to action. It asks port and rail truckers to shut down for the week and lists problems such as the diesel price spike and unpaid wait time.

The American Trucking Associations issued a statement recognizing the difficulties of truckers and carriers who do business at the ports, and pointed blame elsewhere. “For decades, foreign-owned Steamship Lines (SSLs) have engaged in harsh business practices and received special antitrust exemptions that have combined to establish an increasingly difficult business environment for motor carriers engaged in moving intermodal freight at our nation s ports.”

ATA says the SSLs bear responsibility for the unsafe chassis used to transport intermodal freight, and sometimes shortchange carriers. “All too often, many months after the freight is delivered, the motor carrier gets paid less than the previously agreed rate,” said ATA.

On June 14, port truckers and local leaders from 18 North American ports talked to union officials at Teamsters headquarters about work conditions and pay that does not compensate for the diesel prices.

Later that week, Teamsters president James Hoffa said his union was not sponsoring a shutdown, but he did release a list of recommendations for steamship lines and carriers to mitigate the problem. That included classifying drivers as employees and allowing them to negotiate collective bargaining agreements.

Delph Jean, one of the truckers who attended that June 14 meeting, says truckers from other ports, especially Baltimore, are committed to the strike.

Jean has been one of three spokesman for a recent Oakland, Calif., port strike, which lasted about 10 days. He said he is discouraging Oakland port truckers from striking the week of June 28, but believes about 60 percent of them will shut down, while he expects 95 percent of independent truckers to shut down at other ports, including Charlotte, N.C., and Seattle.

On May 4, the Port of Oakland announced the formation of a committee that included Jean, ocean carriers, brokers and other stakeholders to address trucker complaints concerning compensation and working conditions. He estimates about 40 percent of the strikers received raises and fuel surcharges after that.

Jean says two main issues remain for truckers: rates and collective bargaining. California can exempt owner-operators as a group from federal anti-trust laws to allow them to do collective bargaining, he says.

Owner-operator Sandy Tyson hauls containers to and from the Hampton Roads, Va. ports, but is planning to stay home the week of June 28. She says the word has been spread by e-mail, CB and other truckers about the shutdown.

“If it’s nationwide, it’s much more effective because otherwise freight can be diverted from one side of the country to the other,” Tyson said.

Tyson lost her job after being a leader of a May 6 strike at the port over concerns about compensation, chassis conditions and a public registry of fuel surcharges. Last year, she netted $15,000 when she had two trucks; she now has only one.

Since then, she leased to another carrier and became executive director of a new group, the Tidewater Leased Owner-Operators Association. The group, which has 40 members, is setting up an office in Portsmouth and has non-profit status. Its website is www.tloassoc.com.

Meximum Security

Meximum Security

Meximum Security
by Terry Graves
25 June 2004

The United States’ extradition treaty with Mexico permits our southern neighbor not to surrender suspected murderers wanted in the U.S. unless U.S. prosecutors waive the death penalty.



Doing time in a Mexican jail is cruel and unusual punishment -- and that’s the good news. Decades ago, the Kingston Trio lamented, “So here we aaaare in the Tijuana Jail,” and conditions have since gone south, so to speak. Even a correspondent for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, in whose comparisons the United States always gets the invidious end of the stick, wrote, “In many ways, Mexican jails are much worse [than American]… massively overcrowded and falling apart… [where c]orruption is rampant…” According to other reports, in some Mexican jails hard time is done sleeping on hard floors, sharing the concrete with convicts from aptly-named gangs such as the Ear Loppers and the Finger Cutters. NPR did note that the inmates enjoy remarkable freedom within the jails, which function almost like villages. (Apparently it takes a village to raise a convict.) But these are villages massively overcrowded with Ear Loppers and Finger Cutters. Furthermore, NPR continued, in Mexico, certain crimes carry shorter punishments, such as five to eight years for a homicide conviction.


Given the brevity of the sentences, it may be just as well that Mexican jails are hellholes: many who commit crimes in the United States will serve time in Mexico, if anywhere. A recent townhall.com column by Terence Jeffrey, “Make Mexico Extradite Killers,” helps explain why this is so. In it Mr. Jeffrey wrote of an American family whose father, a Los Angeles county deputy sheriff, was murdered by an illegal alien already wanted for two attempted murders. The shooter fled to Mexico, as have more than a dozen others who wounded or killed American police officers. And they are still there.


Why? The United States’ extradition treaty with Mexico, Mr. Jeffrey went on, permits our southern neighbor “… not to surrender suspected murderers wanted in the U.S. unless U.S. prosecutors waive the death penalty…” It gets worse: “… following a Mexican Supreme Court decision that declared life imprisonment unconstitutional, Mexico stopped returning suspects unless U.S. prosecutors waived life sentences, too.” It seems as if Mexico wants the United States to foot the bill for incarcerating its criminal class -- according to Mexican rules.


Mexico is not the only country that has so tidied up its own criminal justice system that it can spare the time to offer the United States its expertise. So far these other nations have presumed only to limit the punishment we mete out to people who commit crimes in the US. France famously did this in the case of Ira Einhorn, the Philadelphia hippie guru who murdered his girlfriend and stashed her body in a trunk in his closet. Canada retains the option not to extradite suspects facing the death penalty and often exercises it. In a recent extradition case before the Canadian Supreme Court, United States v. Burns, involving suspects wanted by Washington state for a triple murder, Amnesty International, the International Centre for Criminal Law & Human Rights, the Criminal Lawyers Association, the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Senate of the Republic of Italy all intervened on the side of -- well, you can guess which side they supported. (A hint: it was not that of the three murder victims.)


But it is the practices of Mexico that impact on us most, especially on southern California: Mr. Jeffrey cited one estimate that in recent years more than 350 violent criminals have fled from there to Mexico. His solution: “…action from the president [Bush] aimed at making Mexico unconditionally extradite killers.” It is impossible not to sympathize with the families of victims of killers now sheltered in a foreign country. It is also impossible to imagine what action Mr. Jeffrey expects. The ground rules for extradition are embodied in a treaty, buttressed by a Mexican Supreme Court decision. The New York Times reported, “The court, in a 6-to-2 ruling, said a life sentence negated the Mexican Constitution's provisions for rehabilitation. ‘It would be absurd to hope to rehabilitate the criminal if there were no chance of his returning to society,’ Justice Roman Palacio wrote for the majority.” Absurd, indeed. Not the decision; to us Madisonian Americans, it is the Mexican Constitution that is absurd. Now, this decision may cause some readers to admire the progressiveness of the Mexican Supreme Court, but before you reflexively rush to nominate it to succeed Jimmy Carter as a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, please note that in 1997, as reported by the Interpress Service, that same Court ruled that “… forcing a spouse to have sex is not rape but a mere ‘undue exercise of a right.’”


Perhaps because the concept of rehabilitation is so foreign to Mexican prisons, Justice Palacio still believes it might work if ever it is tried. Of course, the Mexican Supreme Court is not always so fastidious about extradition: as reported approvingly by the Human Rights Watch, in 2003 the Court used the principle of “universal jurisdiction” to permit the extradition from Mexico to Spain of someone wanted for atrocities committed in Argentina. (Perhaps China will return the favor of all that military technology we let them have and extradite our felons from Mexico to face Chinese justice.)


Only slightly more realistically: what about diplomacy and negotiation, those panaceas urged by people who never so much as haggle over the price of a used car? Even presuming for the moment that the Mexican Supreme Court were to allow its government any wiggle room, just what must the United States give up so that Mexico will “unconditionally extradite killers?" Given Mexico’s differing culture and widespread dislike of yanquis, it would expect the United States to relinquish mucho in the areas of, say, immigration, trade, and criminal justice. Once relinquished, there is no guarantee that in practice the new system of extradition would work any better than the present, replete as it is with delays and corruption. Indeed, a new extradition treaty, no matter how much we give up in return for it, would likely increase the resentment many Mexicans feel toward the United States and make its administration all the more difficult. And on our side of the border, Mr. Jeffrey reminded us, “This raises a U.S. constitutional issue: If killers who flee to Mexico are guaranteed reduced sentences, killers who don't flee can claim unequal justice.” Indeed, administration of the treaty would be subject to the vagaries of judges on both sides of the border -- including California’s 9th Circuit and those justices of our own Supreme Court all too willing to look abroad for a rationale of their decisions. In short, a new treaty would be no guarantee of justice.


What is the United States to do? Nothing. Well, after a pro forma request to extradite, almost nothing. If Mexico or some other nation wishes to attach strings, hawsers, really, to its extradition of criminals back to the United States, then we should let that country keep that criminal. Call it Meximum Security. It is fitting that the culture that helped create a criminal be the one to deal with him; the host country can imprison the criminal, to sleep on hard floors next to the Ear Loppers, or turn him loose on its populace, as it thinks better. No matter which, the criminal is no longer victimizing Americans, and this, not some abstract notion of justice, is the ultimate goal.

"Almost nothing?" We should extend statutes of limitations for whatever time a criminal is in a country that refuses unconditional extradition. And, to ensure the citizens of these countries realize the sort of thugs their governments are welcoming to their neighborhoods, we should set up Internet web sites, in the respective languages, detailing the offenses, complete with mug shots and gory crime scene photos. Third, to cut expenses for, especially, the overloaded California penal system, we should take fingerprints and DNA samples from convicts who are nationals of Mexico or some other uncooperative nation and then deport them to their homelands, which after all claim to be so much better than the United States at this whole criminal justice business. This last may sound radical, but it is at worst an “undue exercise of a right.” (Besides, the Senate of the Republic of Italy, so self-assured that it presumed to advise the supreme court of Canada, that paragon of niceness, would doubtless be eager to accept all of our convicts.) We are told that the United States is not supposed to be the world’s cop; it follows that it should not be the world’s jail. Think, too, of all the money we would save -- justice never comes cheap in this country.

We could start this in a small, truly federal way, without any capital-F Federal action. For example, the Los Angeles County district attorney could use a tenth of a percent of the money saved by not futilely pursuing the deputy’s killer to put a Spanish-language website trumpeting his presence in Mexico. And the Los Angeles county jail is tantalizingly close to the Mexican border, under three hours’ drive by prisoner-transport bus.


Despite the money saved nationally, it might be argued that this notion is politically unrealistic, often repeated by those whose own pet notions assume, say, that humans are purely economic or purely angelic (or both). If political reality will inevitably quash this notion, why worry about it? To generalize: if thing called political reality is so overwhelming, why, then, should not we all just shut up, hunker down, and await the next election? Of course, we shall not, intuiting that the way to begin to make a notion palatable is to present and defend it. Palatable, not realistic. Politic reality is unrealistic, a random interplay of fragments of vague, transitory, and contradictory prejudices bearing little relation to the holder's real moral and material interests. (This does not include partisan politics; that is purely economic.) Think not? Take a moment to compare the political reality in this country on September 10, 2001 with that of two days later. With that of 2004? Which of the three was real, if any? Worse, we live in a prosperous era that leaves too many of us, like the Senate of the Republic of Italy, with too much time on our hands, more than enough to mistake our fragmentary thought-bites for philosophy or compassion. We therefore need to constantly delineate the realistic from the palatable, and both from the thought-bites; this requires that we often be “politically unrealistic.”

More realistically, it can be argued that our porous borders would allow free transit of these criminals back into the United States. This is not an argument against doing “almost nothing;” it is yet another argument for using some of the money saved to secure our borders against these criminals.


Not that by now another argument should be necessary.

DallasNews.com | Wave of abductions raises fear in Mexico

DallasNews.com | News for Dallas, Texas | World: Mexico

Wave of abductions raises fear in Mexico
Citizens take drastic measures as kidnappers adopt new tactics
11:03 PM CDT on Friday, June 25, 2004
By RICARDO SANDOVAL / The Dallas Morning News

MEXICO CITY – Lizbeth Itzel Salinas spent the last three hours of her 26 years being beaten inside a Mexico City taxi.

She was kidnapped last month after hailing a cab outside the offices of the Mexican information ministry, where she worked as a public records investigator. Three assailants forced her to give up her bank account identification number and then threw her from the moving car.

The economics graduate of the Technological Institute of Monterrey, who also attended the University of Texas in Austin, died after the incident. She is one of at least 12 people killed in recent kidnappings in and around Mexico City and among an estimated 160 Mexicans who have died in kidnappings since 1996.

Many Mexicans are apprehensive as a resurgent wave of kidnappings grips the country. Public alarm has grown amid the deaths and a startling change in tactics by kidnappers, who now show no fear of targeting women and children – once thought to be off-limits. Businesses are sending executives or their families abroad and arming themselves, often with illegal weapons.

On Sunday, business leaders are pulling civic groups and victims' rights organizations into a Mexico City march against kidnapping and violence. Organizers are calling for tens of thousands to converge on the city center.

Mexicans complain that they see chronically inept and corrupt police, and lawmakers devoting more time to bickering over who is to blame – even accusing victims' families and private security consultants of making it tough on law enforcement by not reporting kidnappings.

"I agree that in all of our institutions there is corruption," said Rafael Macedo de la Concha, Mexico's attorney general.

Kroll Inc., a New York-based security firm, said there were 3,000 kidnappings last year in Mexico. The country is No. 2 in Latin America for kidnappings, behind only Colombia. Mexican federal prosecutors put the figure at 2,165 kidnappings – for 2003 – of which only 422 were officially reported.

Kidnapping or robbery?

Ms. Salinas' case exemplifies the difficulty in dealing with the crime. Her abduction is not even considered a kidnapping. Almost daily, victims are picked up by rogue taxis in so-called "express" kidnappings: short-lived abductions during which a victim is forced to empty bank and credit card accounts. Local police consider these robberies.

"My daughter was forcefully deprived of her freedom, and then she was murdered. I call that kidnapping," said her father, Constantino Salinas Arce.

Mexican President Vicente Fox has urged reforms to bolster police work against kidnappers. On Monday, Mexico City authorities proposed penalties of up to 40 years for kidnappers.

Other proposals also have surfaced recently, including:

A plan to punish private ransom negotiators if they do not share kidnapping information with authorities. Mexican law considers it encubrimiento – a cover-up – to not report knowledge of a crime.

Freezing the assets of victims' families, eliminating the lure of profits for kidnappers. Veracruz state officials have started this practice, and other states are studying the measure.

A growing call by activists for the death penalty for kidnappers of children, or those who kill their victims.

Mr. de la Concha said reforms are on their way, starting with a public campaign to get victims to report kidnappings. He said his office will produce a nationwide strategy for kidnap prevention and prosecution, and develop a national kidnapper database to prevent criminals and corrupt police from jumping from state to state to avoid prosecutors.

For now, kidnapping in Mexico remains a state crime, with a patchwork of lax penalties, experts said.

"Kidnappers are not waiting for police reforms, they're busy figuring out new ways to get victims and to get their families' money," said Paul Magallanes, a former FBI agent whose Los Angeles firm specializes in personal security and kidnap negotiations in Latin America.

Getting bolder

Kidnappers in Mexico once aimed squarely at the money, holding businessmen for a few days until families coughed up multimillion-dollar ransoms. Today kidnappers appear unafraid of hacking fingers off children, torturing women and killing victims.

Last week the chief of the anti-kidnap police squad in Mexico state was gunned down, days after leading a high-profile hunt for assailants who had kidnapped and murdered two men on Mexico City's south side. Then, five Mexico City police officers were arrested for allegedly aiding other kidnap gangs.

In response, average citizens are turning to expensive security firms to supply bodyguards and bulletproof vehicles, teach them anti-kidnap driving maneuvers and negotiate ransoms. Analysts said private corporations are spending up to $20,000 a month for security – even buying guns from the black market, illegally, for protection.

Security experts say the private protection business in Mexico takes in at least $1 billion a year.

Those with means have moved themselves or their families altogether. Singer Vicente Fernandez relocated his family to San Antonio, Texas, after recovering one of his sons, whose chopped-off finger was sent as proof of his captivity. Another singer, Thalia, now lives in New York. Two of her sisters were kidnapped in 2001; one now lives in Washington, D.C.

For those who stay, living with a fear of kidnappings means hiring bodyguards. At private facilities such as the American School, where many foreign families send their children, sport utility vehicles speed up to guarded entrances, with armed bodyguards quickly jumping out to escort children onto school campuses.

The kidnapping problem has grown so much that the government of Spain this week warned its citizens about traveling to Mexico City. The warning came after eight Spaniards were kidnapped, and six died.

U.S. officials have not issued similar alerts but warn Americans to steer clear of some Mexico City neighborhoods and to avoid freelance taxis.

Overall, crime in Mexico City has declined somewhat since Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in 2000. But kidnapping, security experts said, can dominate headlines and scare the public, especially when criminals start targeting women and children. Federal agents report having dismantled 47 kidnap gangs and arrested about 300 suspects since 2000.

Private security firms insist that kidnapping is fueled by inept or corrupt police and government indifference that leads citizens to avoid contacting authorities.

"In kidnapping, it is a chicken-egg kind of problem," Mr. Magallanes said. "People don't trust the police because they've too often been found to be either in league with kidnappers, or just inept in handling a kidnap case. And that leaves police then unable to do their work."

Mexico complained on Saturday that U.S. authorities allow Mexican drug gangs to buy arms in the United States "as if they were candy"

US News Article | Reuters.com

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico complained on Saturday that U.S. authorities allow Mexican drug gangs to buy arms in the United States "as if they were candy" due to lax controls of gun sales in border states.
The Mexican attorney general's office said Mexican gangs make drug runs into the United States in light aircraft and return loaded up with weapons.

"Unfortunately, the United States does not have adequate control of guns shops in the border area and they sell arms as if they were candy," senior prosecutor Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos told a news conference.

He said the attorney general's office is working with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives against arms trafficking.

Mexico is particularly concerned about arms like the Barrett .50 caliber rifle. he said. The semi-automatic weapon, dubbed "The Widowmaker," can penetrate armored vehicles and aircraft.

"The big problem is that this type of weapon does not have adequate control in the United States. The trafficking of arms from the United States to Mexico unfortunately costs a lot of lives," said Vasconcelos, head of the organized crime unit.

A Barrett .50 caliber was among a number of assault weapons seized in a raid that captured the alleged main hit man of the infamous Arellano Felix drug gang in the border city of Tijuana on Thursday.

The suspect, Mario Alberto Rivera, was wanted for the murder of a journalist in the city who campaigned against the drug cartels, which smuggle marijuana, cocaine and other narcotics across the border into the United States.

'Queen' reigns over man's world of drugs

'Queen' reigns over man's world of drugs

Nancy Pate
Orlando Sentinel
Jun. 27, 2004 12:00 AM


They call them narcocorridos, ballads about Mexican drug runners. Just songs, right?

So thinks the narrator of Arturo Perez-Reverte's intriguing new novel about a drug runner's girlfriend who transforms herself into the legendary Queen of the South, a "woman who appeared on the society pages the same week she turned up in the newspapers' police blotter."

Her name is Teresa Mendoza, and in the beginning, she is just a dark-haired girl with big, black eyes. Her lover, Guero Davila, flies blocks of cocaine and bales of marijuana in his Cessna, eluding the federales and the DEA. Then one afternoon, as she listens to Los Tigres del Norte singing a narcocorrido on the stereo, the phone rings. She knows what it means. Guero is dead. Run.

Fast-forward a dozen years. The narrator, a magazine writer working on a story about the Queen of the South, is at last face-to-face with his subject. He wants to know about Sinaloa, Mexico, where it all started, when the blond, smiling Guero first put his aviator-jacket-clad arm around the vulnerable girl from the barrio. Then the narrator tells readers not only about Teresa's escape to Spain, where she worked as a cashier in a bar and fell for another drug runner, but also about how she went from prisoner to player, heading a Mediterranean drug-trafficking ring. How she became a woman to be reckoned with in a man's world.

Perez-Reverte neatly splices the reporter's recounting of events with flashbacks in which Teresa commands center stage. Suspenseful action sequences, in which Teresa plans drug deals or confronts enemies, balance more-reflective passages as she tries not to remember too much.

"She had discovered too many uncertainties and horrors lurking in every thought that went beyond the here and now. But as long as she didn't actually think, the remembering would give her no more than a sensation of movement toward nowhere, like a boat adrift."

The Queen of the South is a departure for Perez-Reverte, a former journalist whose book sales in his native Spain are comparable to those of Stephen King in this country and whose award-winning novels are a staple of European bestseller lists. His previous five books published in the United States have been clever, stylish entertainments, sophisticated thrillers for people who think. They merge history with mystery. The Flanders Panel, for example, centers on a puzzle presented by a 15th-century painting of two chess players, while The Club Dumas follows the adventures of an antiquarian book sleuth on the trail of a rare manuscript.

These books are much more intricate than the straightforward The Queen of the South. This story, however, has inspired a song. Los Tigres del Norte recorded a narcocorrido, La Reina del Sur, when the novel was published in Spain two years ago.

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail

White harsh critic of justice, immigration systems
Conservative MP says opinions expressed in controversial interview are personal
By ROD MICKLEBURGH AND MARK HUME
Saturday, June 26, 2004 - Page A10
VANCOUVER and ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- A blunt, political populist often likened to the farmer with a pitchfork in the famous painting American Gothic, Randy White is no stranger to controversy.

His outspoken advocacy of law and order, and harsh criticism of the country's justice and immigration systems rocketed him to prominence almost the moment he was first elected in 1993 to represent Langley-Abbotsford, a conservative, Bible-belt region in the heart of the Fraser Valley.

Now, with his no-holds-barred attack on the country's judges, and relish for having Parliament override court decisions on social issues such as gay rights and abortion, Mr. White, 56, finds himself in the hottest water of his political career.

With only days to go before Monday's vote, Liberals and the NDP have seized on the views of Mr. White, a senior Conservative caucus member and former justice critic, as evidence that a Conservative government would endanger minority rights protected by the Charter.

A transcript of Mr. White's frank remarks, made in a documentary interview just before the election was called, came to light Thursday.

"To heck with the courts, eh?" he told the interviewer. "I think most people are getting sick and tired of judges writing the laws to suit themselves."

Mr. White expressed worry that "some obscure judge out there saying 'I need to make a name for myself' " will throw out the traditional definition of marriage, upholding the right of same-sex couples to marry.

"The unfortunate part is that this is exactly how abortion came into this country," he said, vowing that the Conservatives, if they form government, will not be shy about using the constitutional notwithstanding clause to nullify court interpretations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"[And] not just for the definition of marriage," said Mr. White, currently a special adviser to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on the non-medical use of drugs.

"We are not going to be legislated by judges in this country, nor should we be. . . . I think people have to start drawing lines on these judges and motions in the House of Commons. I'm just sick of all that."

Later in the interview, asked whether he would ever take part in a gay pride parade, Mr. White said: "Quite frankly, we don't have heterosexual parades, so why do we have gay pride days? I thought this was all about equality for everybody."

Late yesterday, after uncharacteristically dodging the news media all day, Mr. White issued a terse press release, saying his views are not those of the Conservative Party nor leader Stephen Harper.

"They are my own personal opinions."

Earlier, in his home riding, which he captured last election with 70 per cent of the vote, people expressed surprise and astonishment at Mr. White's views.

"Government has no business dealing with moral issues," said Linda Kutt, as she prepared to do some grocery shopping.

"I'm now leaning Liberal. At least they're staying out of the bedrooms."

Richard, another shopper, said he, too, might shift to the Liberals. "Let the Conservatives be in opposition for a few years. Right now, there are too many unknowns."

And a man sitting outside Chapleo's Coffee Bar who would not give his name said pointedly, "The government should stay the hell out of my bedroom."

During his tenure as an MP, Mr. White has been as much a doer as a talker. He regularly assists victims of crime and frequently attends parole and immigration board hearings where convicted criminals are seeking leniency.

The banjo-playing former accountant has also been in the forefront of the spirited community fight to halt a natural-gas-fired power plant from being built across the border in Sumas, Wash.

Nor has Mr. White avoided controversy within his own party. Reform Party founder Preston Manning bounced him as House leader for not showing sufficient allegiance to him.

Later, as a strong supporter of Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day, Mr. White lashed out at a group of MPs who bolted the caucus, labelling them "the sore losers society" and calling for their expulsion.

When an H-1B Worker is Terminated: What Happens?

When an H-1B Worker is Terminated: What Happens?

Jennifer Wipf: Everyone, Carl Shusterman is here now and we have tons of questions. Many of them are the same questions. A huge number of you are in the same position... so be patient and you will probably find that we do answer you here :) I'm turning moderation on now. It's probably best for you to hold your questions for a little while. Please remember that the answers here are of a general nature and cannot be construed as legal advice.

Carl Shusterman: Good evening everyone. I'm looking forward to tonight's chat. I've noticed that a huge number of new subscribers to "Shusterman's Immigration Update" are coming from companies that have announced lay offs over the past 2-3 months. I hope over the next hour that we will be able to help many people who have been laid off, terminated or are worried about a possible termination to develop strategies to stay in proper immigration status. So let's go to the questions.

Question #1: Hi. I have a question about H-1 validity. I came to the USA on a H-4 and then converted to H-1, but the company ran into losses and I could not join. My H-1 was approved on Dec 28, but since the company was laying off people, I could not even join the company. Is my H-1 valid, or should I have to explicitly apply for H-4 as my husband still holds a valid H-1? Please advise. Thank You.

Carl Shusterman: Since the company does not have a job for you to fill, you should request that your status be changed back to H-4.

Question # 2: What happens if you leave a company after 180 days and INS sends an RFE, asking for pay stubs or other information?

Carl Shusterman: So far, the INS has yet to publish regulations implementing the 180 day rule. However, the law itself makes it clear that you can only adjust status upon demonstrating that you worked for the petitioning company for at least 180 days after your application for adjustment of status was submitted. For immigration lawyers this requirement is inconsistent with the more general rule that you are not required to work for the petitioning company until after you have received lawful permanent residence. However, as an ex-INS Trial Attorney, I doubt that INS would grant permanent residence to a person with an EAD and a pending application for adjustment of status who never worked for the petitioning employer. So as a practical matter, you are going to have to show paystubs, letters of employment, or any other type of proof the INS requests in order to demonstrate that you have complied with the 180 day rule.

Question #3: Been laid off last June from H1B, can my dad file I-130 based on 245i, will it affect my present job (not authorized)?

Carl Shusterman: Yes, if your father files an I-130 on your behalf by April 30th, 2001, and you were present in the United States on December 21, 2000, you will be grandfathered into section 245(i). Section 245(i) does not provide the beneficiary of a petition with employment authorization. You'll only be able to apply for an EAD when your priority date is current and you submit an application for adjustment of status.

Question #4: I am currently working on a H1-B visa & will be laid-off soon. I have my EAD & it has been more than 180 days since my I-485 was filed. Can I work for a new employer by filing a H1-B transfer? (I don't want to use my EAD). Also what happens if I don't find a job for a month or two after lay-off? What would be my status? Can I file for an H1-B transfer after a month or two?? Please help. Thanks...

Carl Shusterman: The advantage of using your EAD to secure alternate employment is that you can start work immediately without having your new employer file an H-1B petition, and if you are unable to find new employment quickly, you will remain in legal status. However, as long as you remain in valid H-1B status, you can choose to have your new employer file an H-1B petition on your behalf. Under the H-1B cap law passed in October 2000, as soon as the new employer submits an H-1B petition on your behalf, you can being working with the new employer.

Question #5: I entered US 3 weeks ago on an H-1B from employer A. Employer A wants me to wait indefinitely before joining them due to current market conditions. I also have an other offer from employer B. Can I apply to transfer H1 from employer A to employer B even though I do not have any pay stubs from employer A? Or can I file for a new H-1B with employer B? If so do I need to go back to my home country to get the H-1B stamped for employer B?

Carl Shusterman: First, your initial employer has an obligation to pay you your full salary whether or not there is work available for you. You may wish to demand that the employer do so. When your new employer submits a petition requesting that you be allowed to change employers, I suggest that he include the letter that you wrote to your first employer demanding that you be paid the salary specified on the LCA. This way, you will be maximizing your chances that the INS will allow you to change employers without leaving the United States. Should INS deny this request and simply grant your new H-1B petition, you do not need to obtain a new visa. You can simply exit the United States and return with your valid H-1B visa and the original Notice of Action showing that INS has approved your new H-1B petition.

Question #6: If I am laid off, do I have any advantage if my I-140 is filed?

Carl Shusterman: Yes, because even if you have to have your new employer submit a new labor certification, an I-140 on your behalf, INS regulations allow you to retain your original priority date and you will also be entitled to benefits under 245(i), even though the EB2 categories for both India and China (and the rest of the world) will be current in May, and the EB3 category should also be current for all countries soon, this situation is not going to last forever. If you have not filed your application for adjustment of status until late 2002, or even 2003, your retention of the earlier priority dates will allow you to become a permanent resident much faster.

Question #7: I have not received payslips since Jan 2nd and my employer forced me to give a letter of leave of absence. I have been given a letter on March 16th stating that I am given a month's time to look for another job. When do I go out of status? When my H-1B gets cancelled or from today onwards?

Carl Shusterman: As an H-1B worker, you must be working for your petitioning employer in order to maintain status; in my opinion, you have been out of status since January.

Question #8: What exactly are the responsibilities of the old employer at termination ? - i.e. flights home, health coverage, etc. - and does any of this include my H4s?

Carl Shusterman: If you read the language on the labor condition application, clearly see: http://shusterman.com/dolforms and scroll down and click "Form ETA - 9035", you will see that in order to employ an H-1B worker, an employer must assure the Labor Department that the H-1B worker will get the same benefits as a US worker. This means that any benefits (e.g. severance package, etc.) must be identical for H-1B workers and US workers. Also, if the spouses and children of US workers who are terminated are entitled to benefits by the employer, these same benefits must be extended to spouses and children of H-4 workers. In addition, employers must promise to pay the flight expenses home to an H-1B worker who is terminated. However, in practice, this is rarely done, since most H-1B workers prefer to find a new employer in the United States rather than return home.

Question #9: My company has terminated me. My last working day is April 23rd. Till when will I stay in status? If another company is filing my H-1B, what will happen if they file it after April 23rd? From when can I start working for them? If I change myself to H-4 and then a company files H-1B, when can I start working for them? Should I have to wait till the full H-1B process is over? How can I apply for a H-4? Will I have to go out of the country?

Carl Shusterman: Neither the law nor the regulations provide a specific length of time that a laid off H-1B worker has to locate a new employer. The so-called "10 day rule" which is mentioned in 8 CFR Section 214.2 (h)(13)(I)(A) only applies to the validity of H-1B workers before and after the petition begins and ends. It has no bearing on how long an H-1B worker is allowed to stay in the United States searching for a new job. In general, INS applies a "rule of reason" which over the years INS spokesmen have defined as 30 days, 45 days, or 60 days. My advice is that if you are laid off and think that you may need several weeks to locate a new employer, that you change status to B-2 visitor and change your status back to H-1B when you find a new employer. Although there are no regulations yet implementing the H-1B portability provision, I believe that it applies not only to persons changing from one H-1B employer to another, but also to persons who are in H-1B status, changed to another status, and are now changing back to H-1B status. For a general explanation of what to do if you are in H-1B status and are laid off from your job, see: Topic 3 of the April 2001 issue of Shusterman's Immigration Update at: http://shusterman.com/apr01.html#3

Question #10: Hi. My labor certification went through and I applied for I-140 recently. What happens if I get laid off now? Can I transfer my labor certification and I-140 to the next company?

Carl Shusterman: You will not be able to transfer your labor certification and I-140 approval to a new employer under normal circumstances. What you can transfer is your priority date.

Question #11: Can you continue to process your Green Card with your previous employer even if you are not working for the same employer any more?

Carl Shusterman: Only if you have complied with the 180 day rule. That is, you worked for your employer for 180 days after your application for adjustment of status was submitted to the INS and you have obtained employment in the same or a similar occupation. We are waiting for INS regulations to clarify this matter further.

Question #12: When you are laid off by the employer (with H-1B Visa) and you have found another employer willing to send a petition to the INS (for changing employers) on your behalf, what exactly does the second employer have to send to INS beside I-129 petition and LCA? Do I have to reevaluate my diplomas or I can send a copy of the evaluations from the time the previous employer applied for my H1-B visa?

Carl Shusterman: The new employer must describe his company, the job being offered and your suitability for that job. However, the documents relating to you will be either the same or very similar to what was submitted to support your first petition. Your university diploma, or your credentials evaluation, will be exactly the same as in the first petition.

Question #13: In what situations can a complaint against a former employer be submitted and what has the employee to do afterwards? He/she has to stay in the US until the complaint is resolved or he can go home and leave this matter in the hands of the INS? Where to send the complaint?

Carl Shusterman: Complaints against employers who fail to comply with the terms and conditions of an LCA should be submitted to the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. There is no specific form to complete. In fact, the complaint can be submitted verbally by calling the local office of the Wage and Hour Division. If you wish, you can ask the Labor Department to keep your identity anonymous. Most complaints involve an employer's failure to pay the wage specified on the LCA, although some complaints also involve alleged violations of the benefits obligation, the posting requirement, the no strike/lock-out provision, etc. Upon receipt of your complaint, an investigator for the Wage and Hour Division will determine if there is a reasonable basis for your complaint and, if so, will investigate the matter and issue a determination. If either the employer or the employee is dissatisfied with this determination, they may ask for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. I have been involved in several of these matters, usually representing the employer against what I considered to be either frivolous complaints or over broad interpretations by the Wage and Hour Division against the employer. However, if after carefully examining the LCA you feel that you have a valid complaint, you can, and should, file a complaint with the Labor Department.

Question #14: I am with a company that is about to lay off some H-1B workers. The company is interested in doing everything it can to protect the ability of the workers to stay here in status long enough to secure another H-1B sponsor. What are some things that we can do in this regard?

Carl Shusterman: Our law firm is finding that for every laid off H-1B worker, several job opportunities exist. If you are an employer and must terminate H-1B workers, it may be in your interest and certainly in the interest of your former employees to help them relocate to other employers who can sponsor them for H-1B status. In this way, you will be doing a service to these employees and, in addition, you will not have to be responsible for paying their travel expenses back home.

Jennifer Wipf: Everyone, we have now run 10 minutes over and it's time for Carl to leave. We had many, many duplicate questions here and we believe we answered all related questions. If you are still unclear, I will try to help you understand the answer after this chat, and a transcript will also be posted. After Carl gives his closing statement, I will turn moderation off so you can speak freely. Thank you Carl!

Carl Shusterman: I hope that our chat this evening was valuable to both employers and employees. Hopefully, the lay offs that are currently occurring in the IT and telecommunications industry will soon be over. And there will be plenty of jobs for H-1B workers and US workers alike. In the meantime, I will try to do everything I can to advise employers and employees so that neither runs afoul of immigration laws and regulations. Good night!

Jennifer Wipf: Thanks again Carl, and good night.

Charge cut in slaying of immigrant - The Clarion-Ledger

Charge cut in slaying of immigrant - The Clarion-Ledger

Charge cut in slaying of immigrant


Teen enters plea to manslaughter; potential juror bias cited

By Marquita Brown
mabrown@clarionledger.com

Concern about potential jury bias led prosecutors to reduce a Canton teenager's capital murder charge to manslaughter in the death of a Mexican immigrant, a prosecutor said.

Deals also have been offered to three other Canton teenagers charged in the shooting death of Juan Contreras, said Assistant District Attorney Randy Harris.

"Considering that Mr. Contreras was either a resident alien or an illegal alien, it was hard to judge how a Madison County jury would respond to evidence seeking the death penalty against a local 16-year-old," Harris said when asked why the charge was reduced. "I just don't know at this time whether or not our citizens might harbor some sort of bias toward someone who is in this country illegally."
Contreras, 43, who worked at a chicken processing plant in Canton, was shot June 19, 2003, during an armed robbery at his home in the Westside Trailer Park outside Canton.

Eddie Clark, 16 when charged, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last week and was sentenced to 20 years, Harris said.

Harris said he would rather "ensure that Eddie Clark is off the streets for 20 years than take a chance."

There was a possibility of a mistrial or an acquittal, Harris said.

"I didn't want to be the first to test the waters. It only takes one juror to vote against death, and it might be difficult to find 12 jurors totally without some bias toward an illegal alien."

Clark's attorney, Edna Stringer, could not be reached.

Harris would not say what offers had been made to Jermail Clark, 13, and Cortez Collins and Mario Clark, both 15, who are still in jail awaiting trial. They will most likely be tried by the end of the year, Harris said. If convicted, they could face life in prison without parole. Eddie Clark, Jermail Clark and Mario Clark are all related.

Regardless of who committed the crime, "they should be punished," said Wanya Williams, 22, a Canton resident. "(Contreras is) a person. He didn't have to be killed."

The situation is an example of a need for dialogue about immigration and its impact in the United States, said Eric Griffin, associate professor of English and interdisciplinary studies at Millsaps College. Griffin has visited Mexico numerous times.

"(Immigration) gets translated very often as a foreign invasion," Griffin said. "It's a much more complex situation."

Feelings of bias toward immigrants "essentially tend to stand in the way of dialogue and real solutions," he said.

Immigrants, illegal or not, "get an opportunity to get things some people have," Williams said. "They're getting paid U.S. dollars. They can go to school and make something out of themselves."

But Bill Chandler, president of the Mississippi Immigrants' Rights Alliance, said immigrants are denied many rights that others enjoy, such as banking. "That has made the immigrants especially vulnerable to robbery," Chandler said.

Immigrants also are worried that "every law enforcement officer is going to put them in a situation where they will be deported," he said.

Stephanie Ragland, mother of Mario Clark, and Glory Clark, mother of Jermail Clark, told The Clarion-Ledger during an interview last year after their sons' arrests that neither teen was capable of committing murder.

"If I have to die to prove that they didn't kill anybody, I will go all the way," Ragland said then.

Jermail Clark, who has been in special education all of his life, "is too scared to participate in a fight," Glory Clark had said. He never wanted to be involved with violence, she said.

Raids don't solve immigration issue - Opinion - thecalifornian.com

Raids don't solve immigration issue - Opinion - thecalifornian.com

Despite assurances from "La migra," the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department, that no sweeps will be conducted in the Salinas area, some Latino neighborhoods are in a near panic over the possibility.

Some people even are seeing things: vans they think are Border Patrol vehicles in local parking lots; people lined up for questioning on sidewalks; farm workers stopped in the fields and asked to show identification. None of this has been confirmed, but anxiety and rumor are definitely spreading.

The source of the rumors and worries is Southern California, where the Border Patrol has been conducting immigration raids, stopping people on the streets, at bus stops and at their front doors. More than 400 people have been arrested since June 1, according to news reports.

Yet there is popular support for the Border Patrol to bring raids to this area. The Salinas Californian's online "Big Question" for Wednesday was: "Should federal immigration officials conduct raids in the Salinas area in an effort to deport undocumented workers?" Sixty-one percent of more than 250 respondents said "yes."

Why not? After all, the undocumented workers are breaking the laws of the United States. So why not scare them off with the fear of arrest and deportation?

The trouble is, public raids or sweeps of people in public are not going to solve the illegal immigration issue. It will keep them from going to work or shopping or sending their children to school. Some of this is already being seen from Soledad to Watsonville.

No, raids aren't the answer to illegal immigration. Only a smart and enforceable immigration policy that focuses on control of U.S. borders while allowing for the supply of workers needed to fuel America's economic engines will address the problem comprehensively.

For every illegal immigrant rounded up and deported by raids, there is another, maybe two, to take his or her place, presumably in the fields, restaurants and factories.

American employers' huge demand for cheap labor will continue to attract workers who can get to U.S. jobs quickly. In this area, those workers come mostly from Mexico and Central America. They take jobs that keep costs down in the United States -- jobs at which often little attempt is made to enforce laws already on the books regarding undocumented workers. Arresting some high-profile employers would do more to discourage illegal immigration than grabbing people off the street.

Our immigration policy, both written and unwritten, is sheer hypocrisy. It creates a system that relies -- and, in some cases, even encourages -- the use of low-paid, undocumented workers.

So why does the Border Patrol go to such lengths to kick them out when employers are so eager to bring them in?

This month's sweeps in Southern California focus a spotlight on our failing immigration policy and should return it to the front burner in the presidential campaign.

We need swift immigration reform to control our borders against terrorism and provide the supply of laborers our economy depends on.

Meanwhile, until American citizens and their leaders come up with a better immigration policy, it makes no sense to wreak havoc on the lives of people who live and work here -- legal or otherwise.


Originally published Saturday, June 26, 2004

The Texas City Sun - Immigration raid hits local seafood company

The Texas City Sun

Immigration raid hits local seafood company

By Lisa Ray
Texas City Sun

Published June 26, 2004

TEXAS CITY — A normal workday at Hillman Shrimp and Oyster Co. turned upside down Friday when immigration officers took custody of about 30 workers.

One employee who only wants to be known as Juan said through a translator that he was working on one of the fishing boats when a bunch of cars drove toward Hillman. That’s when he knew that something was about to happen.

Juan had one of his visa papers with him, and his wife was able to deliver the rest to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that were on the scene. Other employees were not so lucky.

People who witnessed the enforcement action said about 30 workers were taken away in handcuffs.

“We want to say that we are going to do everything we can to help those employees and customers who are impacted by the announcement (about the raid),” the Hillman company said in a press release.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release said agents conducted another raid in Bacliff and one in Port Lavaca. The Bacliff location is a housing residence for Hillman employees. Port Lavaca is another seafood process and distribution site.

Steve Hillman, an owner and manager of Hillman Shrimp and Oyster Co., said the company goes through the U.S. Immigration and Customs office to obtain work visas for all out-of-country employees.

“We spend thousands of man hours a year doing that legally,” he said. “For the last 25 years, we’ve been doing everything by the book.”

Bruce Lewis, who owns a fishing boat, said officials forced everyone to get off his vessel.

“They made them put their hands behind their heads and everything,” he said.

The officers only questioned non-white persons, according to Lewis. The boat owner, who is white, said he was not asked for identification. All the workers on his boat were able to produce official documentation of their right to be in the country.

Agents on the scene at Hillman would not comment on the situation. While conducting the three raids, “special agents encountered undocumented aliens on the premises,” ICE Special Agent Joseph Webber said in a press release.

“Because this is an ongoing law enforcement action, and we must ensure the safety of the law enforcement personnel involved, we will not be able to provide additional information at this time,” Webber said.

Maria Villareal of Bacliff said her adopted son, Marco Villareal, was one of those taken in the raid. The Villareals met Marco when he was 15 and needed a place to say. Seven years later, they decided to adopt him. Maria Villareal said Marco has papers that allow him to work in the U.S., and he works two jobs in Galveston County. Maria was not able to find the papers in time, however, and Marco was taken to Houston by the customs agents.

“I’m so nervous I can’t look through the papers,” Maria said while holding a file of what she said were immigration and adoption papers.

The immigration agency said in a release that the raid specifically targeted “certain criminal activity and persons.”

“ICE continues in its responsibility to protect the members of the communities by halting such criminal activity,” the agency’s statement said.

Lisa Ray is a reporter for the Texas City Sun. She can be reached at (409) 945-3441 ext. 35, or by e-mail at lisa.ray@texascitysun.com.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Pacific News Service > News > Abu Ghraib Comes Home: Alien Detainees and Private U.S. Contractors

Pacific News Service > News > Abu Ghraib Comes Home: Alien Detainees and Private U.S. Contractors

Abu Ghraib Comes Home: Alien Detainees and Private U.S. Contractors
Commentary, By Charles Munnell & Nestor Rodriguez, Pacific News Service,
Jun 25, 2004

Editor's Note: Who's policing private prisons in America? Apparently no one, the writers say, and undocumented immigrants are the most vulnerable.

A lawsuit recently filed in Federal Court in San Diego on behalf of nine male and female detainees in the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison has legal and political implications that extend far beyond allegations of torture in Iraq. The suit addresses one of the most important issues of contemporary governance: Are prison contractors, working for the U.S. government, beyond the reach of law?

Filed on June 9 by a major New York civil rights organization and a prominent Philadelphia law firm, the suit and the questions it raises have become critical, as larger and larger governmental functions are turned over to private contractors -- including the incarceration of individuals and the use of force here in America.

As irrational as it may sound, private companies, cloaked in the full authority of the United States government, are not subject to the same legal constraints as government personnel. In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1999 specifically exempted government contractors from a substantial degree of liability in Malesko v. Correctional Services Corporation.

Justice Stevens, writing in the minority, prophetically noted that "because a private prison corporation's first loyalty is to its stockholders, rather than the public interest, it is no surprise that cost-cutting measures jeopardizing prisoners' rights are more likely in private facilities than in public ones."

The global scale of government contracting also requires new thinking about controlling contractor abuse. The prison "interrogators" contracted in Abu Ghraib were primarily naturalized Americans of Arab origin, and one of the two contractor company defendants is a wholly owned subsidiary of a Dutch corporation. To deal with the special privileges afforded government contractors, the plaintiffs based their claims on the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 and the Geneva Conventions -- causes of action in tort not generally available to U.S. citizens -- as well as on the federal racketeering statute of 1970.

The Abu Ghraib suit deals with the tip of an iceberg. There is a vastly larger class of alien prisoners incarcerated by American corporations. A recent study by the University of Houston Center for Immigration Research reveals that many of the issues raised by the Abu Ghraib lawsuit are also present in the network of immigrant prisons run by private companies and local governments under contract to the United States government.

It is hard to determine the exact number of immigrants detained under various provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the basic body of U.S. immigration law. Approximately 202,000 aliens were detained during Fiscal Year 2002, the Congressional Research Service recently estimated. The average daily immigrant population in detention has increased from 6,785 in 1994 to 22,812 in 2004, largely because of the mandatory removal provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

Almost certainly, a majority of detained immigrants are held under some form of contractual arrangement in contractor-managed facilities or in state and local jails.

Privately run prison facilities vary widely in quality and in the services they provide; consequently, the likelihood of abuse is considerable. In 1998, Human Rights Watch investigators documented extensive abuse in the large sample of facilities they visited. The report found, among other abuses, that the INS was placing its administrative detainees in jails with criminals, even though they were not serving criminal sentences. Those detained included asylum seekers and individuals picked up on the street or during workplace raids.

"This practice violates international standards, and it must stop," reported Human Rights Watch.

Unfortunately, government reliance on third parties to manage immigrant prisons has increased. With the lack of oversight and accountability that accompanies government outsourcing, a corresponding growth in abuse is almost certain.

In recent years, the privatization issue in American public policy was resolved, without serious public debate, in favor of greater government reliance on contractors. Today, will the question of government contractor liability for abuses occurring during incarceration be similarly resolved without serious consideration, and outside the democratic process? The fate of the Abu Ghraib prisoners and hundreds of thousands of detained immigrants may presage the shape of our own democratic institutions.

Charles Munnell is a research associate at the University of Houston Center for Immigration Research and an immigration attorney. Nestor Rodriguez is professor of sociology, co-director of the Center for Immigration Research and chair of the sociology department, all at the University of Houston. He is co-author (with Cecilia Menjivar) of the forthcoming, "When States Kill: Latin America, the U.S., and Technologies of Terror," to be published by the University of Texas Press.

Muslims They Immigrate, But Do They Assimilate? - Tom Segel

Muslims� They Immigrate, But Do They Assimilate? - Tom Segel

Muslims­ They Immigrate, But Do They Assimilate?
By Tom Segel (06/25/2004)

Living next to the Texas-Mexico border gives one a different view of life than is experienced by most Americans. On one side of the Rio Grande are millions of Mexicans willing to risk anything to cross that ribbon of muddy water. North of the riverbank is another population made up of citizens, legal residents and undocumented workers. Ethnically, 90% of this population is Hispanic.

If you remove the divisiveness of politics and ask people how they view themselves or those around them, most will say they are Americans. Many will say they are Texans. Few, if any, claim allegiance to Mexico or any Latin American country.

The culture here is also unique. From food to festivals we all call it Tex-Mex. The richest in culture, customs and traditions of both nations have been blended into a way of life, which might seem strange to some, but proves to be very rewarding for those of us who make our homes in the Rio Grande Valley.

Now view this cultural assimilation by both Hispanic and Anglo along the U.S. border with what exists in countries experiencing immigration by Muslims.

France has seen a large Muslim immigration, primarily from Algeria, Senegal and Mali. These people have never been totally accepted by the French citizenry. The Muslim population is estimated at 4 to 5 million in a country of 56 million people.

The country has seen an explosion of mosques, with numbers now in excess of 1,200. With a growing resentment toward the immigrants, these mosques increase the anxiety about Muslims felt by the French Christian community. The large number of young Muslims who claim no allegiance to France, but instead claim to be Islamists further heightens this anxiety.

France does have a radical­Muslim problem. This militant version of Islam is not being imported, but is increasingly homegrown. It includes not only Muslims on the fringe of French society, but hundreds of highly educated and westernized French Muslims who are becoming intoxicated with the holy-war ideology being preached throughout western Europe. When asked, most will deny any involvement or assimilation into French culture.

Muslim immigration to Germany has been primarily from Turkey. Since 1990 there has been an increase in Muslim asylum seekers from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This has grown that immigrant population to about 2.5 million.

In Germany, Muslim youth are following an Iranian concept, which is known as ³the new holy-war community of believers.² It recognizes no national or ethnic identity. It even shows disdain for traditional Islamic values. This new doctrine is one, which The Weekly Standard calls,² a belief that suicide and murder become sacred acts of believers who want to bring about a purifying Apocalypse.²

Holland has seen a thirty-year experiment in trying to develop a tolerant multicultural society fail. Government officials claim their worst mistake was to encourage Muslim children to speak Turkish, Arabic or Berber in elementary school, instead of Dutch. The resultŠ 850,000 Muslims who have failed to assimilate into the nation¹s culture, import spouses from their home countries, are creating militant enclaves, actively preach Jihad and work to built a terrorist networks in this nation of only 16 million people.

Our most important ally Great Britain has not been immune to a growing Muslim presence. In 1951 there were only 23,000 Muslims in the country. Fifty years later that figure had expanded to 2 million. In addition to a documented Muslim immigrant population made up primarily of Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis, there has been a large influx of undocumented Arabs and Somalis whose numbers are disputed.

That these are true asylum seekers is suspect. They have been seen by the thousands in mosques listening to anti-western Islamic rhetoric. It is known some are taking lessons in making incendiary devices and other weapons of terror. Even France, with Muslim problems of its own, has warned Britain that many of those it is sheltering under the asylum system are terrorists.

According to Frontpagemag.com, French intelligence services have even provided the names of known terrorists living in Great Britain and told the British which mosques these terrorists attend. Nothing has been done and Britain¹s Muslim problem continues

Currently there are about 23 million Muslims residing in Europe. Of course, these are not all fundamentalists. In all fairness in must be noted that many Muslims have become westernized. By accepting western values and lifestyle, they have also made themselves targets to the more militant of Islamic factions. There is major conflict between the new western approach to life and what those who claim to be Islamists demand. Those Muslims who adopt western ways are also the enemy in the eyes of fundamentalists.

Islamic fundamentalist hatred of all things western is something, which baffles both Europeans and Americans. This hatred is a rejection of western civilization, not only for what it is, but also for the values it professes. Among the Islamists, those who promote or accept this life style are enemies of God.

In Islam the war between good and evil has both political and military dimensions. By their philosophy, according to Bernard Lewis writing in Atlantic Monthly, ³If the fighters in a war for Islam, the holy war in the path of God, are fighting for God, it follows that their opponents are fighting against God. And since God is in principle, the sovereign, the supreme head of the Islamic stateŠthen God as sovereign commands the army.² Lewis goes on to write, ³The duty of God¹s soldiers is to dispatch God¹s enemies as quickly as possible to the place where God will chastise them, that is to say, the afterlife.²

Islam is more than religion. It is also the politics or Muslims and the platform on which Muslims base their militancy. As this radical version of the faith has grown, it has destroyed the culture of a great people. Once leading the world in art, science and education, militant Islam has reduced every land where it flourishes to that of a Third World country. It has triggered more warfare than any faith. As a quick exercise try to think of two or three wars raging in the world that do not involve Islam.

Muslims in America have found open hostility since the events of September 11, 2001. Some leaders of the Islamic community have been urging Muslims to return to the countries of their origin. Other leaders have been urging the establishment of stronger Islamic communities here in the United States. While traditional Islamic law states Muslims should reside in their own lands, it also concedes that Muslims may live in non-Muslim lands as long as they fulfill their religious obligations.

Observers see the Muslim community as being very conflicted because of the pronouncements by its own leadership. Increasing the conflict is the fact that Muslims born in the United States are more open, more tolerant and less sectarian. This creates divisions, which have detrimental effects within these closed communities. Regardless of being U.S. born or immigrant, all Muslims in America share similar views on international Muslim politics, the hypocrisy of United States foreign policy, and negative media reports about Muslims.

Viewed from the western perspective, Muslim immigration into the United States is becoming a concern. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the nation. In just over thirty years, immigration from the mid-east has changed from being about 15% to 73% of immigrants being Muslim. From a small number in the 1970s, the mid-eastern immigrants have grown to an estimated 2.5 million.

Within this body of immigrants we have already found terror cells, terror finance operations and those who support fundamentalist ideas. We have also seen that that Muslim support of America¹s War on Terror has been weak at best. There have been a few letters to newspapers, sound bites on television news and interviews where Muslim leaders go through the motions of expressing sorrow at the loss of 3,000 innocent lives or words of encouragement of the people of America. Missing has been any real expression of outrage at any terrorist act. Now our own government, in an attempt to be politically correct says, ³We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with terror!² A nation cannot be at war with an ³outcome². Terror is an outcome of militant Islam.

With all of these things unfolding, there is now even a movement to modify language. We are being told that it is not a preaching of Islam to hate. They even tell us that Islam really means ³peace². This is a new definition by any stretch. What Islam means is ³submission². It is the objective of Islam to have all non-believers submit. If they will not do so willingly, they will be forced into submission.

We cannot speak for those countries in Europe, but there is one thing all Islamists should quickly learn about AmericaŠ.it doesn¹t submit to anyone.